House Beer Brings Ale Expertise to the Short North
There’s a new bar on High Street that’s out to expand your horizons when it comes to the beverage you thought you already knew. House Beer, an all-beer bar, is a refreshing break from the typical taps you find at most bars and it makes a concerted effort to let you know there’s far more to beer than Natty Light and Budweiser.
As a friend and I entered the bar, we were greeted by what we dubbed our “beertenders” for the night, Lauren Paglisotti and Courtaney Wilson (who moonlights as Alanis Morissette’s twin sister—or at least she should). I explained my plight: that I have very limited experience with beer and what little I do have is unpleasant. “You’re our favorite kind of customer,” they both laughed, and proceeded to explain the way the bar works and the many types of beers in it.
At House Beer, you can purchase beer by the bottle, take home a case, or fill up a growler to take home (think those big, old-timey booze jugs in the cartoons with “XXX” on the bottle, but smaller and cuter). You can bring your own growler to fill up or buy one at the bar. House Beer has every type of beer you never knew existed. From lights to darks, lagers to ales to ciders, they just about have it all and I’m telling you, if you go in uneducated about beer, you definitely won’t leave that way.
The ladies were more than knowledgeable about the various complexities that go into crafting a good ale. I asked Paglisotti what in the world hops were and what was the big deal about them in beer. She told me hops are a plant of the cannabis family. They’re used to add bitterness to beer, balancing out what would otherwise be a completely sweet beverage thanks to the yeast from the barley.
Not only are hops an important piece of the flavor puzzle when it comes to beer, but so too are the other ingredients. Paglisotti explained that cheaper beers tend to have a lot of filler ingredients such as corn and rice and don’t contain as much of the flavorful barley as more expensive ones. Better beers, on the other hand, have much more barley and better quality ingredients (which, she said, is also why you tend to get less hangovers from them).
There are countless different types of beer and each of course has its own distinct flavor. Understandably then, it can be a little intimidating trying to figure out what kind you like. Fear not. If you’re unsure of how to approach testing out different ales, Paglisotti suggests approaching it in the same way you might think of trying new food. What do you like about the flavor? What do you dislike? Are you a fan of the bitterness or do you like sweet tastes better? What other flavors do you taste in there?
Besides the extensive knowledge they provide, another unique offering from House Beer is its monthly book club. Wilson said that each month a new book is selected and is paired with a different beer. This month’s selection was suspenseful killer thriller Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and was appropriately paired with Monk’s Blood, a spicy, sanguine-colored beer. Next month’s pick is Divergent by Veronica Ross (the beer is undecided so far).
With the only signage being the House Beer logo on the two glass doors, House Beer is an unsuspecting little place that’s easy to miss driving down High Street, and almost as easy to pass by on foot. The interior is probably the size of a large living room in a log cabin and coincidentally (or maybe not so much), it feels that way too. The interior is made completely of wood, including the very unique tabletops made of large slabs of sliced and glossily shellacked trees. Dim track lighting with hanging light bulbs throughout the room gives an unusually comfortable and cozy feeling to the place.
House Beer describes itself as “a bottle shop and ale house dedicated to providing local art, culture, and beer education.” They really seem to get that there is a plethora of us who are under-informed about beer. So do yourself a favor and go learn all about it down at House Beer. It’s the most fun you’ll have getting an education since your college days—plus the beer is way better.
More information can be found online at www.myhousebeer.com.